[Lexique de la voiture ancienne] #14 Targa
This week, since it’s summer and we’d like to roll our hair in the wind, we’re focusing on the names of certain discoverables. They are Targa… even if only one car finally has the right to bear this name!
The Targa is therefore the term that designates a specific style of old (or not) convertible cars. After convertibles, roadsters, and even after speedsters, the Targa is the latest invention to date (since the Coupé-Cabriolet actually dates back to the 1930s).
The principle can also be closer to the coupé-cabriolet since the Targa makes it possible to have a rigid but removable roof. It transforms a coupé into a convertible. Where it differs from a convertible that would carry a hard-top is that the rear window and a sort of arch behind the occupants, remains in place while the roof is removed.
This principle is quite recent and only earned its name after it was employed by a mythical auto.
The story of the Targas
The first Targa therefore did not bear this name. We are in 1958 and Vignale offers an elegant coupé, with American airs and lines that are furiously reminiscent of the Volvo P1800. The base is a Fiat 1200 and the Wonderful Coupe actually offers to remove the top, momentarily, and store it in the boot. It’s a unique car but she launched the idea.
Why haven’t we done this before? Because you still need materials of good quality to guarantee sufficient rigidity to drive without the roof… and to be able to put it back on without the car being « twisted ».
The drawing of this Fiat is signed Michelotti. The same designer who will offer the same thing on an English: the TR4. A few prototypes followed, or racing cars, like the Ford GT40 Roadster, in the early 1960s, but this removable roof was still not mass-produced.
The idea will seduce in Stuttgart. The Porsche 911 901 skipped the convertible to better satisfy sport. The solution providing more rigidity than a convertible was the one chosen and exhibited at the 1965 Frankfurt Motor Show. This new type of bodywork was offered on the 911 AND 912 and bears the name of a mythical race won by Porsche: the Targa (Florio). The car stands out with this system but also with its metal hoop.
The idea will quickly spread. In France, the Matra 530 adopts it. In Italy, it is the Miura Roadster which adopts it (it is therefore not a roadster). Then follows the Fiat X1/9, the most produced outside of the 911 (174,000 units between 1972 and 1989). None of these cars can be called Targa for all that. The name is registered by Porsche.
The more the years pass, the more the examples are numerous. The Ferraris are doing it, even if they had already adopted it on their racing cars of the 60s. Thus, the GTS are not real Spiders but Targas. In Detroit, it was the Chevrolet Corvette C4 that popularized the system (replacing the “T-Top”) which was stored (not easily) under the rear canopy.
Porsche obviously drove the point home. The Porsche 914 is exclusively a Targa. The 924 can accommodate it. Despite the appearance of real convertibles in the 911 range, the Targa remains on the program. And it has kept its arches which contrast with the color of the bodywork (except on the 993 and 993).
The term Targa has therefore become both generic and specific to Porsches. In any case, it has not been diverted to another bodywork discoverable by any marketing department, and that’s good!
Additional pictures: Wheelsage